Parents in business: corporate escape mentor Lou

Lou Hynes, 44, is a corporate escape mentor and qualified coach, empowering professional career mums to create a clear plan to leave their 9 to 5 life. Lou is married to Pete (who she met 9 years ago in her corporate job) and has three children, Will (13), Charlie (7) and Matilda (5) plus Rosie the Cavapoo puppy! Read on to find out about how Lou can help women discover an exciting entrepreneurial future.

I’m a Corporate Escape Mentor. I coach professional career mums who have a dream of leaving the corporate world and being their own boss. I help them rediscover their passions and purpose and use the power of unlocking their core values to help guide them as to what their next chapter looks like. I then work with them to release their limiting beliefs and build the confidence and self-belief for them to put themselves out there and follow their dreams and desires! 

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? 

I’d spent my 21-year career in the world of market research and consumer insight. I worked for a number of research agencies in both London and Leeds before working for a large global corporation within their consumer insight team. My transition was an unusual one as I became so unhappy in my role that I handed in my notice without having a clear idea about what I’d do next! I’d spent the previous five years trying to figure out how I could leave the corporate world and the role that wasn’t serving me anymore – exploring a number of franchise options, setting up a network marketing business but ultimately never finding my true purpose until I’d actually left the role. Then, having the time and space to really examine what my values and passions are, it was a lightbulb moment when the realisation that coaching other professional women on how to leave unfulfilling roles and pursue their own dreams came to me! 

When did you launch? 

Officially, in January 2021, although I’d been coaching a few women prior to that.

How did you get started? 

Once I’d had my ‘aha’ moment I did my coaching accreditation, took a course on launching a coaching business and dived right in! I think my passion for helping other women in a similar position as I’d been in really resonated with a lot of people, especially as it took me 5 years to figure out my next steps and I can help these women in just four to six months. Covid had hit too and a lot of professional mums are re-evaluating what’s important to them and what they truly want from their careers and their lives. 

What’s your favourite thing about running your own business? 

The freedom and flexibility. I do the school run every day. I’m there for the children after school and will never need anyone’s permission to go to their school concert or sports day again. I also absolutely LOVE being able to completely change women’s lives. Women who have harboured a hidden desire to be their own boss one day but haven’t had a clue where to start – seeing their transformations from feeling trapped, stuck and unsure into passionate, confident, self-assured women going after their dreams and creating a more meaningful life for them and their families – it’s priceless. It’s such fulfilling work.

What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business? 

I know my own zone of genius and so the parts that aren’t part of my natural skillset (the finances, tech, etc) I do find frustrating and not as enjoyable! It’s a small price to pay, though!  

What has worked well about your business? 

I believe there are three key things that have worked well. Firstly, as a mentor and coach people are buying into me as a person so the most important thing for me (and one of my highest values) is integrity and authenticity. I’ve been honest about my own story, I’ve been 100 per cent myself throughout the journey and it’s worked well, as then, when someone books in a clarity call, they’re not surprised by who they’re chatting to, as it’s what they’ve seen and heard on my social media and when I engage with people. People can see right through you if you’re not being true to yourself! Second, I also believe that finding what you’re passionate about is key to your success, as even when things feel challenging, you remember why you’re doing it and it keeps you going. Finally, it’s finding something you’re passionate about that there is a need and desire for. I know without a doubt that so many hugely successful talented women are going to waste in their corporate roles, who would love to be their own boss and work on their terms but just don’t know how. Figuring out what you’re passionate about and then doing your research to see if there is a consumer need and desire for what you offer is key!

What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it? 

Around four months into my business journey helping corporate women with their escape plan, I figured that I ‘should’ become a business coach. In my head it made sense that I was helping women figure out their next steps and so they’d be able to continue their journeys with me. If I’m honest I also believed that there was more money to be made in business coaching. So I pivoted my business. After a while though I knew I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons, that helping career mums is my passion, and that I’d done it because I thought it was what I ‘should’ do. I’d got distracted by shiny object syndrome and not focussed on who I believe I’m truly here to help and serve. I journalled, listened to my intuition and reverted back to my original purpose which feels so much more aligned again! It’s about recognising when something doesn’t feel fully aligned for you, realising you’re doing something because you believe you ‘should’ and going back to what you love. 

How do you fit work in with the family? 

My family is the reason I started my own business in the first place so it’s hugely important to me that I’m fully present when I’m with them. I finish work at 2.30pm on a school day so I can pick them up and be with them. A couple of days a week the youngest go to after school club to give me a longer working day. I’ll sometimes pick things up in the evenings but to be honest I try not to. It’s just as important to switch off from the entrepreneurial journey as it is to be immersed in it and I want to spend time with my kids and husband in the evenings too! The school holidays are certainly a juggling act but thankfully we have parents who are happy to help out and have them so I can keep things ticking over. 

Would you ever give up your business to do something else? 

Never! I’d love to do more travelling, but being an online coach and mentor means I can work from anywhere, being location flexible is a great perk of the job! 

Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Or when do you think it will come? 

I try to celebrate every success, however big or small. I believe that when we fall into the trap of ‘I’ll have made it when…’ that we’re constantly pursuing the next thing, rather than being happy with where we are right now. Of course I have goals and achievements that I’d love to see happen, but to me, it’s about being grateful for the present while continuing to work on the future.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years time? 

To have helped even more fabulous women realise their dream of living life on their terms. I’ll be approaching 50 by then so sipping a glass of champagne somewhere beautiful would also be amazing!

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